Many of us throw away food every day. Not only is waste annoying and somewhat costly, there's also the bigger impact on our planet.
How is food waste affecting our greenhouse gas emissions, our forests, water reserves or our ability to feed the world? And what can we do to help?
Let’s start by looking at some of the facts:
- One-third of all food produced worldwide is wasted.
- 88 million tonnes of food is wasted in EU countries each year.
- The average UK family wastes about £810 on food per year and it's similar throughout Europe.
- In the USA this figure is closer to $1,866 per household.
The UN has set sustainable development targets that include cutting in half the global food waste by 2030. But why is it so important?
Food waste when thrown away often ends up in landfill and as it breaks down it releases a potent greenhouse gas called methane.
It's thought that so much wasted food goes to landfill that if global food waste were a country it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouses gases in the world.
28% of the world's agricultural area is used to produce food that's ultimately lost or wasted every year. It stands to reason that if we keep wasting food, we'll need more land to produce more food.
We only have a finite amount of land on our planet and historically we've seen natural habitats changed to farmlands and forest, chopped down to plant commercial resources. Resulting in less land for wildlife, biodiversity, soil enrichment and greenhouse gas-absorbing trees.
Freshwater is one of the world’s most precious resources. Yet 70% of it is being used for agriculture, including crop irrigation and drinking water for livestock.
For example to produce 1 apple it takes 125 litres of water, so when we discard a bruised apple it's similar to throwing away 125 litres of water. And for 1kg of beef it’s as much as 15,400 litres!
Approximately 30% of food produced for human consumption is wasted, which equates to 1.3 billion tonnes of food annually. At the same time, around 795 million people around the world suffer from food poverty.
The UN stated that if global food waste was reduced by just 25% we would have enough food to feed all of those who are malnourished.
Food waste manifests itself in different ways in different nations. In developing nations over 40% of waste occurs post-harvest and in production. With industrialised countries, more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels.
How to help reduce food waste
- Write a meal plan for the week and only buy what you need.
- Keep track of what you throw away and don’t buy as much of these things the following week.
- Know the difference between ‘use-by’ and ‘best before' dates – ‘use by’ is about safety and food isn’t safe to eat after this date. ‘Best before’ is about quality and foods are perfectly safe to eat after this date.
- Check your fridge is at the correct temperature: between 0 and 5⁰C. Keep your fruit and veg in the fridge as it will last longer.
- Empty bagged salad and vegetable leaves into cotton bags – to keep fresh for longer.
- Buy local food, as well as odd-shaped fruit and veg - they're often the tastiest anyway.
- Recycle: eggshells, emptied tea bags and vegetable peelings all make for great compost for the garden.
- Use your leftovers for meals the following day or freeze them for future meals. There are fantastic recipes for leftovers from soup to bhajis!
- Love your freezer: Freeze excess food. Food doesn’t need to be frozen on the day of purchase and is fine to freeze up to the use-by date. At weekends you can batch cook and use up leftovers.
Our wheatgrass juice is grown in UK fields, harvested and then flash-frozen. This means you can keep it in your freezer with all its nutrients, vitamins and enzymes retained.